Allowing Them to Sacrifice


Written by Ann Brennan

Three weeks ago I looked at the calendar and thought I might die from fright. I was absolutely sure there was no way I could possibly be ready for Beach to Battleship Ironman in October. Fifteen weeks? That’s all I had? It took everything I had not to call Coach Jeff and tell him I could not do it, that I was once again backing out of a race.

Then I saw the schedule he had set up for me for the following week and watched the video he sent reminding me of the importance of getting in each and every workout. He reminded me that to get this done I had to fully commit. And I sat there, looking at the computer screen and asking myself what it was that was stopping me.

It isn’t that I am lazy or that I don’t enjoy the workouts. It isn’t that I am incapable of completing any given workout. When it came right down to it, I had been hesitating because I was not sure my family was ready.

Since my first child was born eighteen years ago, I have always been the one to sacrifice a workout. I don’t go out early because I don’t want to make anybody late or even nervous about being late. If they have a doctor’s appointment or a soccer game or practice, I have been the one to sacrifice my workout to make sure it gets done.

In some ways this makes me look like a good mom, but as I sat there, ready to sacrifice the Ironman, something I have dreamed of since I was 13 years old, I realized I have underestimated my family.

They would hate to know that I sacrificed a dream for them. As much as I have gained through supporting them over the years, they can gain from supporting me. By always sacrificing for them, I have taken something from them as well. I have taken away that feeling you get from knowing you are part of someone’s success.

Still, it is hard to break the habit. So every morning, when I wake up early and leave for my bike, run or swim, knowing that my sixteen-year-old daughter might be woken up early during her summer vacation by her little brother, I have to remind myself that yes, I am being selfish but my family is okay with that. They understand that this is short term. When I missed the first day of my daughter’s first soccer tournament in three months in order to get in my long ride, I had to fight with my inner mommy and remind myself that its only three months. Yes, I am being selfish but I am doing it with a goal in mind.

Hopefully in the end, as my children watch me commit to my daily routine, as they stand on the beach and watch me enter the water and as they see me cross that finish line in downtown Wilmington, hopefully, they will gain something. Hopefully it will mean something to them to know that all of the sacrifices they are making now are at least partially responsible for my getting it done. Because, without a doubt, without my family, without their support and their sacrifice, I could not do this.

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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7 Responses to Allowing Them to Sacrifice

  1. Love this, Ann. I think some of the best parenting is done by not only being there for your kids, but showing them that you too have a life/dreams/goals/desires and that you need time to indulge those to be a complete person.

    Also, you’re going to be great at B2B!

  2. Donna says:

    I struggle when I read posts about race choices being sacrifices for those involved (you may remember that I wrote about this long ago)

    Yes, technically the choice (between soccer match and long ride) is a trade off, making it a sacrifice – it is one or the other. But for me sacrifice is such a negatively loaded word with deep roots in the spiritual. Is it just me that reacts in this way when I hear the word sacrifice used to describe the positive choices we make, especially when it comes to committing to our big goals and dreams?

    I am convinced that the way we all see it – friends, family, and distant supporters alike – is that the situation is not a sacrifice (ok the laundry basket may disagree – but bear with me). I for one take energy and courage from the choice you have made. In that sense you are not creating the zero sum game that the word “sacrifice” implies (in my mind anyway) – you are creating a net positive for yourself and everyone around you yielding dividends far greater than 1 – 1…

    As you say, the proof will be in Wilmington. Until then, know that your choices give us courage to pursue our dreams too.

  3. Pamela says:

    Good post, Ann! It’s great that you’re working hard to achieve your goals.

  4. Ben says:

    Awesome! Your kids deserve the right to tell all their friends, “my mom is an Ironman…what about yours?”

  5. Christina says:

    Awww, really nice post! I think almost every one of us Moms can relate and understand these feelings. And no, you are not being selfish. I’ve had many of the same thoughts and I’ve very quickly come to realize in these early years of Mommyhood – Momma’s got to have “me” time too. In order to be a good Mom, we have to have a life worth living for ourselves too. We also have to show examples to our kids, how to work hard and achieve goals. Any time we set out for a training run while they stay at home, we need to always remember that we are showing them how to be committed, how to work hard, how to aim high, and how to keep sports a part of our lives!

  6. Pingback: Ironman Training and the Family by Ann Brennan :: PRS FIT :: Running and Triathlon Coaching

  7. Pingback: Pull It All Together - Ann's Running Commentary

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